I love routine. I have a morning routine, an afternoon routine, and an evening routine. I guess you could say this is when my Type A personality really shines. However, when it comes to a bedtime routine, many of us struggle.
Isn’t it just way easier to fall asleep on the couch binge-watching multiple seasons of our favorite television show? Although this may be your preferred method of falling asleep, it’s not the way to clock some high-quality zzzs.
One in three adults does not get enough sleep. (Shocking, but not really). Here are a few tips on how to create a sleep routine.
How to create a bedtime routine
Get ready for bed before you feel tired
Pro tip: when you first begin to feel tired, do yourself a favor and start to get ready for bed before that second wind hits. Brush your teeth, change into a comfy set of pajamas, wash your face. That way, when that wave of tiredness fully hits, you can ride it straight through to dreamland.
For a holistic addition to your bedtime routine, try lavender essential oils to promote relaxation. Dab a few drops on your wrists to help you unwind as you begin your bedtime routine.
Keep it cool and dark
Our body temperature naturally lowers when we sleep. In order to trick your body into feeling sleepier sooner, try keeping your space cool before bed. I like to crack my window an hour or two before bed so I can get some cooler, fresh air circulating around my apartment. (Yes, even when it is -5 in Chicago). You can also set your thermostat between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considered the ideal temperature range for a better night’s sleep.
Another way I like to kick off my bedtime routine is by turning off all of the lights in my apartment and opting for soft, soothing lighting instead. I light a few candles, plug in all of my twinkle lights, and allow the lowered lights to signal to my body and brain, it is time to start winding down for the day. (Yes, it is as cozy as it sounds).
Ritu Saluja-Sharma MD, board-certified physician in Emergency Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine, an integrative health coach, and the founder of Head Heart Hands, agrees this is a great addition to any bedtime routine.
“Light has a very powerful effect on our circadian rhythm. The circadian clock is most sensitive from about two hours before our usual bedtime and through the night, until about one hour after we wake up in the morning. Exposure to light during these times will affect when our bodies naturally get sleepy.”
If you live in a bustling city that never sleeps, consider investing in black-out curtains. If that’s too expensive of a retail endeavor, snag a silky soft eye mask instead.
Power down devices
Okay, okay, we hear this one a lot, like a lot, a lot. But it’s because this bedtime routine tip is one of the most important of them all. One part of your sleep routine might be powering down all of your devices one to two hours before bedtime.
Melatonin is the primary sleep hormone. If you’re exposed to the blue light of your computer, phone, or other mobile device, it may trick your brain into thinking it’s earlier in the evening than it really is. By ditching devices before bed, the body can begin secreting melatonin, which can help you fall asleep faster at bedtime.
Transition into a nighttime routine
It takes time for us to wake up in the mornings. Most of us do not bounce out of our beds and head straight into the day ahead. No way! Instead, we slowly transition into the day with a cup of coffee, meditation, or some form of mindful movement. The same can be said about bedtime routines. We need transition time between our wake time and our sleep time.
One thing I do at the start of my sleep routine is write down everything I have to do the next day. That way, when I’m relaxing before bed, I don’t have a million and one things rolling around in my mind. For you, a similar transition step may look like journaling, light stretching, or a restorative yoga flow.
If you like to read before bed, opt for something on the boring side. “Thriller novels or political books that enrage you is a big no-no,” shares Eddie Bye, Founder of Physio Flex Pro, in case you get too agitated.
The bottom line on bedtime routines
Bedtime routines do not have to be a blunder, nor should they be overlooked. Marvin Nixon, National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, says, “Creating a wind-down routine does not need to be complex. What is important is that the routine is consistent most nights of the week. Most people have a wind-down routine, but do not call it a routine.”
Nixon continues, “To create a solid wind-down routine, start with what is already successful for you and you already do consistently before bed, such as brushing your teeth. Then add what you want around that successful core routine. Candles and meditation are not required, though they can be a good part of a successful routine – if you want.”